How to Send a Fax When You Don’t Have a Fax Machine

http://How to Send a Fax When You Don’t Have a Fax Machine

This is not a reprint of an article from 1992. (And no, next week I will not be reviewing floppy disks.)

It’s 2017 and faxing is still very much a thing. As crazy as it sounds, it’s easy to understand why. If you’ve got confidential documents in your email inbox, one wrong click could send them to the bad guys. It’s a key reason many financial, real estate, health-care and legal firms still require you to fax important forms.

When my financial adviser insisted I fax a document a few weeks ago, I asked if he could also recommend a good pager. Then I explored my best faxing options, none of which involved getting a fax line, making a toner-cartridge mess or listening to earsplitting digital noises.

Use a Fax App or Website

Rather than use old-school facsimile transmission over phone lines, fax apps and websites send your messages and documents via the internet. After you input your preferred ZIP Code, these services assign you a fax number so you can send and receive faxes via a website, mobile app or even email.

They all work similarly: Input your recipient’s fax number and name, write a cover sheet then upload your scanned document. Some even allow you to sign right in the app and fax a document straight back.

Among the four I checked out, I liked eFax and HelloFax the best. eFax has web, iOS and Android apps, though it charges a hefty monthly rate starting at $17.

HelloFax doesn’t have a mobile app, but it does offer a simpler web interface, five free trial faxes and, for sending faxes, a pay-as-needed option—99 cents for faxes up to 10 pages. (If you go over 10, each additional page will cost 20 cents.) If you want to receive faxes, you’d have to sign up for a plan starting at $10 a month.

Use Someone Else’s Machine

The next option is to track down an actual fax machine. See if your office has one and ask if you’re allowed to use it. If not, head to your local FedEx Office, Staples or another local shipping store.

Not all FedEx and Staples locations will charge the same amount. At a FedEx in New York City, it cost me $1.89 to send the first page and $1 for subsequent pages to a local number. It cost $2.95 a page to send to a long-distance number. At a FedEx in New Jersey, it cost $2.49 a page to send to a long-distance number. (At those rates, the fax machine itself was probably paid off in a week!)

Staples in NYC was a little better: $1.50 per page, no matter where in the U.S. you’re sending it.

In her weekly “You Got This” video series, Joanna offers quick mobile tips meant to be watched right on your phone. Watch more of her “You Got This” videos here.

Write to Joanna Stern at joanna.stern@wsj.com